NAB opposes FM contour rule change


More comments have come into the FCC supporting WYAB-FM Flora, MS owner Matt Wesolowski’s proposal to have the commission protect only the actual signal contours of FM stations, not their unbuilt potential maximum facilities. But there are also two filings in opposition – one from the National Association of Broadcasters and another joint filing from several groups, including industry giant Clear Channel.

According to NAB, the change Wesolowski is seeking “would increase congestion in the FM frequency band and would prevent upgrades, power increases, transmitter relocations, and other station improvements.” And, it added, “Perhaps, most importantly, the proposals would potentially impede the ongoing development of HD Radio.”

As for the HD Radio issue, iBiquity Digital Corporation also filed comments. It is not formally opposing the Wesolowski proposal, but insists on a “showing that the changes can be implemented without negatively impacting the rollout of digital FM service.”

The other opposition was jointly filed by Beasley Broadcast Group, Bryan Broadcasting Corporation, Clear Channel Communications, Delmarva Broadcasting Company, Merlin Media Licensee LLC and Radioactive LLC. Rather than being signed by a communications attorney with the six clients in common, the president, vice president or manager of each company signed the joint statement, with Randy Michaels signing twice for the last two groups.

The joint filing took issue with Wesolowski’s claim that the FM band is mature and that maximum facilities not built in the 25 years since the current rule was adopted will never be built. Rather, they insisted, licensees who purchased FM allocations in government auctions in recent years may need more time to build out maximum facilities – and that older stations should retain the opportunity to build to the max if and when impediments which have prevented them from doing so are finally removed.

“In sum, the Petition’s proposals might advance the individual interests of certain non-reserved FM band stations, but at a high price to the public interest,” the six concluded.

Click here to read all filings in the proceeding.

RBR-TVBR observation: We wondered where the big guys would come down on this issue. Now we know. The filings put the NAB at odds with one of the state associations, the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters, which has endorsed the change. A previous poll found overwhelming support among RBR-TVBR readers for the Wesolowski proposal. What do you think? Please add your comments below.